A significant jail sentence has been handed to a Vernon man in connection with attempting to communicate and lure children under the age 16 via computer.
Justice Peter Voith sentenced David Clayton Willerth, 40, to four years in Vernon Supreme Court Friday morning after Willerth pleaded guilty Tuesday to 17 counts of communicating via computer to lure a child under the age of 16.
Willerth, who was arrested in May 2013, was also sentenced to a further nine months in prison, to be served consecutively, for pleading guilty to one count of possession of child pornography.
A total of 168 days will be taken off the sentence for time already served in custody by Willerth.
“Mr. Willerth’s conduct was predatory,” said Voith in pronouncing the sentence. “He was insistent and aggressive even after it was made clear to him by some of the victims that they didn’t want any further communication.”
There were a total of 16 victims in the case, all between the ages of 12 and 15.
Crown counsel had sought a sentence of six-to-seven years while defence was seeking a three-year term.
Willerth will be sent to a federal penitentiary to have access to counselling programs.
Willerth posed as a model agent under a fake name on a social network site in May 2013. He offered young girls contracts and money and asked that they send him nude photographs.
After police were informed of social network conversations by parents of one of the victims, the investigation led to an IP computer address at Willerth’s Vernon home.
Willerth, who sat with his head bowed through a majority of the 50-minute sentence proceeding, did attempt to meet some of the girls he was communicating with but never met any of them.
He also deleted from his computer nude photographs he received from one girl.
Voith took into account a prior criminal record for Willerth which included impersonation and criminal harassment, and the fact he pleaded guilty to 18 counts, sparing the victims from testifying and reliving their ordeal in a trial.